Thursday, 28 June 2018

As Cameroon English Speakers Fight to Break Away, Violence Mounts

It has a sky-blue-and-white striped flag stamped with a dove and a national anthem that speaks of “the heroes who bore the land with their blood.”

“Glory to the father for making you a nation, a joy forevermore,” the lyrics say. “Ambazonia, land of freedom.”

The nation of Ambazonia doesn’t officially exist. But a violent battle over attempts to create it in English-speaking areas of largely French-speaking Cameroon is quickly escalating. Schools, homes and villages in the Central African nation have been burned to the ground. Travel between some towns has been blocked.

For a year and a half, the Cameroonian military has been accused of beating and arresting people suspected of being separatists, torching homes and killing unarmed protesters.
As Cameroon English Speakers Fight to Break Away, Violence Mounts
For their part, separatists have taken up arms and have also turned to violence. They have been accused of burning markets, launching attacks from civilian bases, beheading soldiers and kidnapping people they suspect as traitors.

Videos purporting to show abuses on both sides have circulated on social media, fanning already sky-high tensions. Propaganda and lies proliferate. Both sides are using incendiary rhetoric: The military calls the separatists “terrorists,” while the separatists— many part of the Cameroonian diaspora — have accused the military of “genocide.”
“We see the situation degenerating from a crisis to a conflict,” said Gaby Ambo, executive director of the Finders Group Initiative, a human rights group in Cameroon. “And if nothing is done soon, it will turn into a civil war with grave consequences.” As Cameroon English Speakers Fight to Break Away, Violence Mounts
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